Synopsis: A robotics engineer at a toy company builds a life-like doll that begins to take on a life of its own.
Director: Gerard Johnstone
Stars: Alison Williams, Violet McGraw, Jenna Davis
January always sees new releases in the thriller/horror genre. Seems fitting, doesn’t it? Shake off the cobwebs of the holidays and give our hearts a good fright!
The 2023 entry is M3gan. We meet Gemma (Allison Williams, Get Out), and she is a roboticist. She works at a toy company, and while she should be focused on a particular project, she is working on something else. Something she is more passionate about. Gemma is very smart and has a strong team working with her.
Gemma’s life is thrown for a loop when she gains custody of her niece Cady (Violet McGraw). While Gemma cares for her niece, there aren’t many maternal instincts here. When it’s bedtime Gemma doesn’t have any children’s books to read Cady. That’s ok; she can download one. Wait, she just needs to update the app.
Gemma decides to tinker with her passion project and make a prototype for Cady to have as a friend; this is M3gan, short for Model 3 Generative Android.
At first, M3gan seems fantastic. She stores away memories that Cady shares with her. She acts as a guardian, reminding Cady to do the important things like flush the toilet and wash her hands.
As the company that Gemma works for starts to see what M3gan can do, their mind is filled with dollar signs as this could be the big new toy.
Now any film written by James Wan (Saw) and produced by Jason Blum is about to go dark very fast, and M3gan is no exception.
M3gan is not only a guardian for Cady but a protector, and the prototype goes next level to ensure no harm comes to Cady. In a world with Google, Siri, and Alexa, it is always interesting exploring what would happen if ‘the machines turn.’ Movies have explored our relationships with AI, especially films like Her and Ex-Machina. M3gan is different. It’s as if we are looking at Child’s Play, but instead of a red-headed doll running around, we have a futuristic doll. So instead of the original Terminator, we have the most developed one.
M3gan has the opportunity of becoming a franchise. Is it keep-you-up-at-night scary? No, but it’s effective. Williams plays her part well, but the standout performance was from Violet McGraw. Such a wide array of emotions were on display for this young actor, and she exceeded in all of them.
M3gan is an entertaining film. When she goes dark, there is no turning back. When I saw the movie, there was a father with his teenage daughter in the row behind me, and when one character crossed Cady, which is like crossing M3gan, I could hear the girl say, “Oh no, dad. He’s really gonna die now!” She wasn’t wrong.
The movie also does a good job of mixing in some great satire. We have our ‘Karen’ character and our ‘pretentious’ boss. It’s as if everything was checked off.
This movie works, and I expect to see more iterations of it.